THE BOAT OF YIDDISHKIET CAN PROTECT OUR YOUNG | Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

THE BOAT OF YIDDISHKEIT CAN PROTECT OUR YOUNG

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

Many moons ago, when I wore a younger man’s clothes, I bought my first car. This was a very special moment and was done with great forethought and preparation. In those times a kollel member would never even dream of buying a new car. No, our pocket could just about stretch to an older model that had most probably endured some heavy-duty driving.

Generally speaking, these models came with different coloured doors, dents in all the wrong places, all of them a sure sign of previous battles lost. You could never be certain what was going on under the bonnet and for this reason one would first ask a “maven” to check out what was going to become the royal carriage for your young family. Despite the best will on earth, and all the accumulated knowledge from years of looking over old jalopies, this plan was far from foolproof. Every kollel yungerman had his stories of doors falling off, of engines making havdoloh, and brakes deciding to give up braking! It was a badge of courage to park your noisy old Chevy in the yeshivah car park; one felt a sense of pride in the number of scratches his car possessed.

On one occasion my chavrusa was having trouble getting his car to pass its MOT; this annual inspection took on a semblance of Yom Kippur, with no small amount of kluging and beseeching Hashem for rachamim. He heard of a special mechanic who was a whiz at fixing the unfixable, and for a small fee he was told this guy could sort his car out in no time. He drove over and was told his brakes were kaput, but that given an hour or two they could be fixed. After waiting two hours my friend returned and was told by the grease-smeared mechanic that in truth he could not fix the brakes. However, all was not lost; he had made the horn louder so everyone could get out of his way!

I often find that when something in our lives is broken we tend to just honk our horn a bit louder rather than repair the breakage. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of chinuch. It is always easier to play the blame game. It’s the Rebbe’s fault. No, it’s the menahel. Wait, it’s that other teacher. It’s the school administrator. It’s everyone but me!  The shame is that all this noise does not begin to rectify anything; it just creates an echo chamber of self-delusion. Meanwhile, it’s the children that suffer the damage, with dents that can never be repaired.

Twice in the Torah we are told about the making of carriers that needed to be watertight. Once, with the Teivah of Noach, and again with the little basket that carried Moshe Rabbenu as a child. Both times we are told that there was pitch smeared on the inside, to keep the water out. Keeping harmful forces away from our young must start from within, from the home. We can’t always depend on the schools to fix what we have broken. Yes, there are situations where a school is better able to offer a child help in unique areas. No one expects parents to be totally knowledgeable when it comes to educational needs. However, every child deserves to feel that come what may, home will be the safe place where he or she will find support and love.

In the confusion of the Golus we find ourselves in, it is absolutely necessary that we create a sheltered safe place within our homes. We can trust nothing beyond our front door, the turmoil of the secular world seethes all around us.

Modern technology is a matter worth being extremely wary of. Our first steps must start with a clear understanding what it is that is the danger. Technology is neutral in and of itself, it is the user that turns it for the good, or chas vesholom bad.

To return to my car metaphor:

Our trusted family car, in mature practiced hands is a convenience that has changed all our lives. However, if someone with no understanding or awareness of its power, gets behind the wheel, well then you are witnessing a crash waiting for a place to happen.

Ever since the industrial revolution, new advances have posed serious threats to Kedushas Yisroel. Trains, telephones, air travel, these and more are just examples of challenges that previous generations had to learn to work with.

The story is told of how a “country bumpkin” was once walking near a village on his first trip to the “big city”. Suddenly he heard a load screaming whistle, spinning around he saw something that defied all understanding. A giant black steel creature, belching smoke and making a tumult, was coming at him at great speed. Our friend jumped onto the side of the path, just saving himself from the furry of the monster. After shaking himself off, still in shock, he made his way further towards the city. He came across a small house and seriously upset, knocked on the door to ask for something to drink. The home owner saw the disheveled state of his visitor and invited him in for some tea. The host quickly set the kettle to boil, when suddenly, as his kettle started to whistle, his guest grabbed a nearby broom and started slamming the tea kettle. “What are you doing?” asked the startled host, “Sir, you have no idea what happens when these whistling things grow up! I just saw one and it nearly killed me. I am saving your life, believe me!”

Our lives are in danger, that is certain, but we have to learn how to handle these challenges, and do so with maturity, understanding and confidence. The first place for learning life’s lessons is in the home, one created with a safe environment that allows our children to obtain the tools to get on in the world Hashem has given us.

Just as we try to teach our young to drive safely, using seatbelts, breaks, indicators etc. so we must share serious technology understanding with proper safety guidelines.

Noach’s teva was sealed from within, and he thus was able to withstand the storm that lashed from without. We must seal our homes from within with love for Yiddishkiet, warmth and trust in Hashem, then our young with be enabled to face our current storms with a positive understanding.

 

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